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Indiana GOP Bill Would End Legal Recognition for Trans Residents

The proposed bill would remove the word “gender” in all of Indiana's state code, replacing it with "biological sex."

A protester holding a placard reading 'Trans Rights' is seen outside the Indiana Statehouse before the Indiana House of Representatives education committees hearing on HB 1608 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Republican lawmakers in the Indiana state House of Representatives have authored a bill that, if passed, would undo all political recognition of transgender residents in the state.

The bill, authored by Rep. Chris Judy (R) and co-sponsored by three Republican lawmakers, would remove any mention of the word “gender” within state code. The word would be replaced with the phrase “biological sex,” which is narrowly defined in the proposal as the “genetic identity of a person as either male or female.”

The bill, which is clearly intended to target transgender and nonbinary people in the state, also creates strict definitions of who constitutes a male or a female — a male would be defined as any person whose organs currently or at one point could produce sperm, while a female would be defined as any person whose organs currently or at one point could produce ova, with exceptions for “a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development.”

The legislation would apply to, among other facets of state law, “the construction of all Indiana statutes concerning sex discrimination and benefits or services” that the state provides or recognizes, the bill states. For example, it would apply to discrimination law, removing previously established gender-based protections within the state civil service that legally protect transgender workers.

In addition to removing gender-based protections, the bill redefines the state’s dormant definition of marriage, perhaps in hopes that the Supreme Court will one day reexamine the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that established marriage equality throughout the country.

Indiana’s anti-marriage equality law still remains on the books, and if Obergefell was dismantled, it would go back into enforcement. Because that law bans marriages between two people of the same gender, it could potentially allow couples in which one or both people are transgender to remain married under its parameters. The new bill, however, would change the language of the anti-marriage equality statute to refer to biological sex rather than gender.

The legislation is akin to proposals being made elsewhere in the U.S. Last week, Republicans proposed a bill in Florida to end potential legal recognition of transgender people. That bill includes a measure that would require drivers licenses to display a person’s biological sex rather than their gender.

Speaking directly to Truthout about the Indiana bill, Allison Chapman, an LGBTQ legislation tracker and trans rights activist, noted that six other states implemented similar changes to their state code last year, redefining gender in ways that effectively deny trans people legal recognition. Although some of these states have had legal challenges to the updates in courts, no rulings have been made yet.

“Indiana is following many other states and attempting to remove all legal recognition of trans people by redefining sex and gender as the sex you were assigned at birth throughout the entirety of the state law,” Chapman said.

The Indiana proposal “is very similar to bills that passed in Russia in 2020 and Hungary in 2023,” Chapman added. “It’s incredibly disturbing the major push that we are seeing to pass bills like this.”

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